Firstly, a little bit about me. I’m Delores Deluxe, cabaret songstress, comedy magician and Momma Cat of The Kitten Club Burlesque Cabaret. I’ve been performing, producing and promoting shows on the London scene for nearly 10 years, managing the entertainment for the original burlesque supperclub, Volupte for almost 4 years, performing at many high profile corporate and international events and producing various shows around London. I have also been teaching burlesque for around 5 years which inspired me to create a body confidence workshop.
The workshop came about as I often found that when I would teach burlesque, many women would want to discuss their feelings about their body confidence (or lack of) with me during the class. This really struck a chord with me as having previously been an actor, I knew only too well the feeling of not fitting in or feeling judged for not being ‘standard’ size and moving into burlesque had completely changed the way I felt about myself, for the better. The workshop is fun and is rooted in burlesque and it’s positivity, confidence affirming and styling but we do some visualisation exercises and a bit of group discussion where people are free to share their feeling and thoughts about the exercises, their bodies and the way they treat themselves as a result. I started my spring season of these workshops just 3 weeks ago, but have already seen nearly 90 ladies in the classes so here I am to share my experiences and findings!
The first thing that struck me as a little bit of a surprise was that not everyone was supportive of the class – while I was doing a bit of promotion on social media, I got some very negative feedback on Twitter from a man who suggested the classes were only encouraging women to be obese –I chose to disregard this man as judging by his feed, he was clearly a individual who had pretty serious issues with all women. However, I was a little more shocked and disappointed when I was told a mature and intelligent female friend that I would have assumed would be supportive had described the class as ‘Delores telling people it’s ok to be fat’. The woman in question hasn’t been to a class and I think she would be fairly surprised about the women who come to them and their experiences – I was prepared to have my eyes opened and they have been!
Let’s just get one thing straight! These classes are attended by woman of ALL ages, sizes and walks of life. The workshop isn’t about weight at all, it’s a nurturing and supportive environment where we look at our attitudes to our bodies, how we are affected by the media and the ideals that are set out for us and how we allow negative thoughts and influences to affect us on a day to day basis, sometimes without even realising. I’ve had ladies from 19 to 68 in the class and of every size imaginable. I can honestly say, thus far, I’ve found there to be absolutely no correlation between size and body confidence – we’ve had some ladies who I would consider very slim and beautiful who are desperately unhappy and feel that they are hugely unattractive.
The diversity of the women is the thing that I have found most interesting – I think I expected the majority of the ladies to be between 20 and 40 but a considerable number of women in their 50’s and 60’s have also been attending which I thought I might find slightly intimidating but these women are a real asset and so open to discussing their lives and experiences which I think the younger women in the class find encouraging, enlightnening and often very entertaining!
I was also pretty impressed at the depth of their thoughts and feelings that women are prepared to share in a room full of strangers! I have been teaching workshops for many years and consider myself a confident and experienced facilitator so it’s quite exciting to be able to facilitate this level of intimacy while ensuring that everyone felt comfortable and safe. I suspect that a lot of the women just wanted permission to be themselves for 90 minutes and absolutely focus on being honest, brave and throwing themselves into the various exercises and discussions without judgement.
There have been some truly marvellous moments and while I don’t expect to change the way someone feels about themselves in 90 minutes, I do think that some women have taken away some very positive things. I received this email after my very first session which I think has been one of the most inspiring things so far.
“I cannot thank you enough! I walked out of there today (and even without the one wee glass, I would have felt the same) held my head up high for the first time in years! I sashayed down the street and felt a million dollars. You know the little box? I left it there!
The other lovely ladies in the group were wonderful. If you hear from them, give my love. Beauty is in everyone!”
I was so delighted with this feedbackB – if I can make even a few women feel positive and make a difference to them then it makes it all worthwhile! At the end of every class we write a manifesto for ourselves – just a simple list of 5 positive things we are going to do or affirm every day which I think is a really nice way to start treating ourselves a bit better and trying to keep the negative patterns at bay!
I have another 6 weeks of classes to go so if you haven’t booked in and would like to, I have a special offer for the readers of the Kitten Club blog – you can have a class for just £10 (normally £25) when you book, emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org with BRITOFFER in the subject line.
Classes are every Saturday at:
The Joker of Penton St,
58 Penton St
Various time slots available.
Hope to see some of you there, come along and join us – Viva La Sisterhood!